Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

It’s said that every woman should never divulge the details of three key elements of her person: her age, her perfume and the recipe of her Caesar salad dressing. (Well, I’m pushing it with that last one, but my grandmother swears upon the first two). 

In the spirit of breaking down the walls of established norms of femininity and propertied foodie trade secrets, I celebrated my 31st birthday this past Sunday. I wear Hugo Boss Deep Red. And here is my Caesar salad dressing recipe, one that has won over the staunchest carnies. You know, the ones who feel the need to remind you that humans “have canine teeth for a reason,” with the pomposity of a ten-dollar Donald Trump. 

Caesar salad, contrary to culinary legend, was not a favoured salad of ancient Mediterranean dictators, but the signature dressing of Caesar Cardini, a popular chef in California during the 1930s. The original recipe was not the creamy, garlicky slop drenched over their romaine lettuce North Americans have come to recognize, but a sharp, spicy light dressing with layers of opposing flavours – lemon, anchovy, olive oil, garlic and Worcestershire sauce – swirling together into a vortex of gastronomic perfection. Despite making the breaths of millions of salad eaters a little… intense, Caesar salad remains a North American favourite. 

I had tasted vegan Caesar salads before, and each seemed to run a bit shy on the deep underbelly of the flavours required to make it worth eating. As anchovies and Worcestershire sauce aren’t vegan, it was important to find worthwhile, plant-based substitutes that would round out the mood of the dressing.

Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing

1 large garlic clove, crushed 

1 tsp capers (approximately 8-10 capers)

Salt and pepper to taste 

4 tbsp olive oil 

1 tsp red wine vinegar 

The juice of ¼ lemon. 

2 dashes soy sauce or Bragg’s 

2-3 tbsp of Vegenaise or other vegan mayo.

1. Crush the garlic clove through a press onto a wooden cutting board. As with the garlic, press the capers through the garlic press. Mash both together on the cutting board with a little salt and pepper with a fork. Transfer the paste into a small bowl, preferably Tupperware. (The finished dressing is best blended by being shaken). 

2. Add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, Bragg’s and vegan mayo. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the lid on the container and shake furiously for a moment. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes ahead of serving. 

3. Just before you’re ready to serve and toss the salad, taste-test the dressing. Feel free to add a little of whatever flavour you feel may be lacking (e.g. a touch more pepper, a little more lemon). 

4. Serve with a head of romaine lettuce, and top with nutritional yeast or your favourite parm substitute, croutons and raw sunflower seeds.